Provo proves Comcast can offer better service at a lower price when there’s no other choice


Comcast’s patron saint.

You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
Al Capone

Comcast guards what it considers to be its turf with a ferocity that makes a Chicago gangster look like a social worker. Now, it’s putting a move on Provo.

As Utah broadband blogger Jesse Harris tells it…

I spoke with one of their sales guys who confirmed that Comcast will be offering a package of 250Mbps/50Mbps for $70 starting in September, but only in Provo. (Sorry, everywhere else.) This is in direct response to Google Fiber coming to town and will include a new modem with a built-in 802.11ac router to take advantage of the speed bump.

Whether 250 Mbps for $70 comes true or not, Comcast has already turned up the competitive pressure in Provo, meeting Google Fiber head on. Last month, it floated a $120 package that combined a solid TV package and 105 Mbps Internet with a choice of either telephone or home security service. That’s Google’s price point for just a decent enough TV package and a gig of Internet.

Comcast clearly wants to lock customers into multi-year contracts before Google has a chance to fire up its service in Provo. But throwing voice or home security onto the table is enough to kill the gigabit buzz. Whether it’s 105 or 250 megs, let along a gig, it’s more than the vast majority of households need, want or use right now. Trading bandwidth you don’t use for phone or security service is a no brainer.

Google has the speed, flexibility and resources to whack Comcast, if it wants. No need to waste tears.

Muni and small independent networks, though, that have gone up against Comcast’s total war and big lie tactics haven’t done as well. Comcast can afford to bleed profusely in a handful of its markets, if it means warning off risk averse competitors. The only choice left to the community networks it targets is whether to stand their ground and die quickly, or back down and strangle slowly.

It’s a choice Al would applaud.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.